Views and Vistas:
Bernal Hill is a beautiful spot to spend your afternoon once classes end for the day. It’s located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood and is easily accessible by car and spacious enough for walking dogs off-leash. The hill has multiple rocky paths crisscrossing atop the hill that you can explore, as well as a beautiful panoramic view of San Francisco. In addition to the hiking and views, there’s a swing that hangs from an enormous tree near the top of the hill that you can swing on, facing the bay in front of you.
Like Bernal Hill, Tank Hill is another inner-city vista point with trails through the trees and around the hill. It features stunning views of San Francisco’s downtown and Castro areas, particularly at night. You can park in the Cole Valley or Twin Peaks neighborhoods on nearby streets or take public transportation, which leads to multiple stair-entrances to the hill. Even the Golden Gate Bridge is visible from this central SF point!
The wooded trail on Mount Davidson is another great hike that leads you to the highest peak in the city. Mt. Davidson is also often less crowded than other outdoors spots in the area if you’re looking to avoid the crowds while still getting outside. At the top of the peak are great views of the city, as well as a large cross surrounded by trees, standing as a monument commemorating the Armenian Genocide. The best place to start is at the hiking path entrance on Juanita Way, where street parking is available. The path is also accessible by public transportation due to its location just off of Portola Drive.
By the Beach:
If you’re looking for a new spot to check out, but can’t stay away from the ocean, be sure to take a walk through Fort Funston. While the entire length of Ocean Beach is a perfect space to get some fresh air and take a long walk during quarantine, Fort Funston, in particular, is a beautiful area to walk through and get some spectacular views of the ocean from a different angle. With plenty of parking and various hiking and beach trails, it’s a great spot to walk your dog or just enjoy the views from atop high ocean bluffs.
The Lands End trail is a perfect escape from the city with its jaw-dropping views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean. The trail runs along a cliff and takes you to the Presidio or Baker Beach, however, you can park at either end to start your hike. The walk also offers views of the beautiful Sutro Baths, which are accessible through a shorter walk from a parking lot. However, spotting them off of the Lands End trail is a great way to explore and experience them.
If you feel you’ve exhausted all of the Golden Gate Park walks, this hidden gem in the park is a perfect place to explore while social distancing this spring. Just west of the Academy of Sciences and the Botanical Gardens sits Strawberry Hill and has its very own beautiful waterfall, Huntington Falls, surrounded by Stow Lake. (The falls are occasionally off when there’s no water, but you can still enjoy the other wonderful views in the area if you choose to go!) One of the more peaceful spots in Golden Gate Park, Strawberry Hill, offers a lovely wooded walk up the small peak, where picnic tables and benches are easily accessible to pause and enjoy the views. You can also opt for an easier walk around Stow Lake, where you can hear and see various birds.
Candlestick Point Bike Trails
The Candlestick Point State Recreation Area sits right on the San Francisco Bay in front of what was once Candlestick Park, south of the city. Easily accessible by car, you can walk or ride a bike along the trails in the park or right outside of it along a paved path that runs along the San Francisco Bay. If you’re looking for a long flat place to ride your bike and explore, this is the perfect trail to try out. It’s also peaceful, quiet, and never crowded, so you can count on it being a safe spot to be outside while maintaining social distance!